I was recently visiting family in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (arguably ). Being the kind of saddo that spends inordinate amounts of time around this great site despite being neither a professional planner nor architect, I obviously took loads of picture of the urban space there.
Barcelona is a reasonably large city (about 3.1 mn - urban area). Seen from atop Parc Guell, the density, 'emergent' (disorder and fractality of the city are evident
Back in the narrow streets, the perception is considerably more tranquil, oftentime downright peaceful.
One definitional aspect of this urban space is the easy mingling of commercial (office/retail) and residential space (apartments, almost entirely); of vehicular traffic and pedestrian areas. All the following photos are from the Gracia neighborhood, laid out in a tight grid at the turn of the century over an existing small suburb as Barcelona expanded to engulf it. Below, you can see one of its largest squares (with a parking garage dug beneath it).Note the variety of building heights and details.
That is one of the interesting points. Urbanity, human scale and private/public demarcation are easily maintained regardless of the architectural style, from Art Nouveau
to Art Deco/Bauhaus
to modern(ist), check out the almost brand new building.
What about away from the squares? This is a picture of something of a thoroughfare, albeit a narrow, 1-way street. Pedestrians and cars get along OK, with compromises. I would point out that over 200 meters of this street, there a huge amount of retail diversity (I guess thanks to the density).
One small block away from it, my favorite space in that area. A tree-lined plaza (the old town-hall square) surrounded by retail and numerous cafes/informal restaurants. A place to have a cup of joe, maybe a bite, peruse the paper (see the well-supplied newsstand) while the kiddies play around in a car-free environment. My 5yo girl entertained three generations of Catalans with her impromptu and prolonged 'ballet' performance, while my 7yo boy chased around and we got to kick back.